Shindychew Dances
for winds & percussion

Stephen Andrew Taylor, 2012

"Planet Landing " by Hua Nian

Commissioned by the Illinois Wind Symphony, and dedicated to Robert W. Rumbelow and the IWS. Premiere: 21 September 2012, Urbana, Illinois. Illinois Wind Symphony, conducted by Robert W. Rumbelow.

Duration 10 minutes

Program Note

Shindychew Dances is a set of three short pieces from my 2012 opera Paradises Lost. Based on a 2002 novella by Ursula K. Le Guin, the opera tells the story of the starship Discovery: a "generation ship" in the midst of a 200-year voyage of exploration and colonization to a planet known as New Earth, or Shindychew. While the travellers expect someday to reach their destination, Bliss, a new religion that has arisen en route, teaches that their destiny is to journey through space - literally, in heaven - for eternity. All they know of Earth is war, crime, disease, and suffering; in short, it was hell. Why should their ancestors escape from hell and send them through heaven, only to land on another hell? When their voyage is unexpectedly shortened, religious conflict becomes crisis.

The first dance, "Virtual Jungle," represents the only way the travelers can learn about Earth - by exploring jungles and cities in virtual reality. The second dance, "In the Fifth Generation," is a simple aria on a poem: "My grandfather's grandfather walked under heaven; that was another world." The third dance, "Silent Black Outside," depicts the ceremony of Bliss: for the religious followers, all life is inside. Outside their metal cocoon is death: the nothingness of interstellar space.

Last updated October 2, 2012 by Stephen Andrew Taylor,